Fallout (Hot War)
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: David G. Stevenson
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553390735
Date: 19 July 2016 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The U.S. is at war with the Communist nations. After using a bomb on China to stop incursions into Korea, the Soviet Union bombed Allied cities. Even the mainland U.S. is no longer sacrosanct. Even as nations tremble, individuals bear the ultimate prices on the battlefield and at home.
The use of subterfuge allows Soviet bombers access deep into Allied territory and no target is off limits. The massive destruction rained down by the use of nuclear bombs leaves many nations in partial ruin. Industry takes a hit as well as a large number of people have been affected by radiation and will need care.
Just when one side seems to be gaining an advantage, a bomb changes the balance of power. Mass concentration of forces is just asking for a bomb to level an area. Strategic nuclear strikes are part of the newest form of war. Attrition will at some point cause the collapse of one side. But some attacks may not be forgiven and as the action moves forward, a fight to the knife may be in the offing.
This is the second novel in The Hot War series. The story is told through the point of view of the everyday people, the action moves forward with people struggling to survive and rebuild. Just when things seem to be going okay, a new problem drops on the scene. There are times when Harry Truman is a point of view in order to give a broader perspective. As the second novel in a series it isn't the best starting point. Readers should start with Bombs Away.
The wholesale use of nuclear bombs is something that was avoided in our history. But there were several near misses over the years. The divergence point of this alternate timeline was one of those moments. The climate issues of today would be replaced with the cleanup of the large number of bomb sites with unknown consequences in other areas. The cost for caring for the sick and wounded would have led to a very different America. In the next entrant to the series, the bill for some of the costs will come due. And the war will move to a new level of ferocity. The restraints are gone, and the future will be much different.
One of the great things about this series is that the characters need to deal with the consequences of their action. The pilots and crews that bombed Japan in WWII struggled with their actions. Now imagine being a pilot or crew which carries out multiple strikes and levels major cities on a regular basis. The toll on these individuals is great. Even on the ground, the actions of a few to make things a little better can lead to changes and conflict.
I enjoyed this novel and look forward to the next entrant into The Hot War series.